Pebble Meet Punta

By Associated PressOctober 8, 2008, 4:00 pm
For Tiger Woods, time really is money.
Five hours on the golf course might make him a million dollars. A couple of days sketching out a golf course on a rocky outpost in Mexico might be that, plus another $10 million or so more.
Five minutes on the phone with me? Priceless.
That was the precise time allotted the other day when Woods made an appearance at a Los Angeles hotel to announce his latest business venture. I tried to make it six, but the ever efficient public relations woman would have no part of it.
There wasnt any talk about his surgically repaired left knee or his return to golf. Thats partly because Woods has already covered the subject as much as hes going to, but mostly because the only reason Woods had my number was to discuss the golf course he was designing about 70 miles south of San Diego.
And, hey, I only had five minutes. Think I was going to waste them by asking him about Elin and Sam?
So, Tiger, just how great is that Punta Brava course?
You really cant ask for a better piece of land, Woods said. Were going to have 17 greens or tees on the water, with eight shots played over water. I dont know of any other course that can say that.
Theres also not many other courses that can say they were designed by the greatest golfer of his time. Two to be exact, one now under construction in Dubai and another soon to break ground in North Carolina.
They dont come cheap. Nothing Woods is involved in comes cheap.
The price tag on this development is penciled in at about $100 million and will include the golf course, a hotel, some villas and 40 estate lots where the price tag starts at $3 million and goes to $12 million.
Thats just for land, which just about limits the pool of buyers to Woods and perhaps some former Lehman Brothers executives. Indeed, Woods plans to build a home there.
With the economy on the skids, this probably wasnt the best time to announce a development for the super rich, though the project has been under way for some time. Woods was supposed to walk the site on the Monday after the U.S. Open, but had an unplanned play date with Rocco Mediate and had to delay the trip a day.
At the official announcement Tuesday in Los Angeles, developer Red McCombs said that if it werent for Woods, he never would have become involved.
When this was brought to me, I wasnt especially turned on, said McCombs, former owner of the Minnesota Vikings and San Antonio Spurs. Then they told me there was a good chance that Tiger would be involved. I said, `Forget it. Its over. Im in.
Go to the Punta Brava Web site and theres some dramatic video of Woods standing on a rocky cliff overlooking the Pacific, surveying the scene and talking about the magnificence of it all. Study it closely because the whole development will be private and it may be the only chance we get to see the peninsula of land that juts out from the Mexican coast.
McCombs is betting that there is still a market for ultra high-end private clubs, even while the golf industry, as a whole, is in a deep and troubling slump. People are playing less golf than before, and after a decade-long boom more golf courses closed in each of the last two years than opened.
But having Woods on board is a sure way to stand out in the clutter of exclusive developments that have all but been reduced to begging for members. Everybody, it seems, has a Jack Nicklaus-designed course (he has 265 of them), but Woods promises to be stingy when it comes to the number of courses he puts his name on.
Im not going to probably design a lot of golf courses over the course of my career, Woods said. I dont have the time to design 10 golf courses a year like some guys do, nor do I want to.
Woods has always studied the courses he plays, and seems to know them as well as the greenskeeper. At the Masters every year hell notice the subtle changes made to the course before anyone else.
Whether that translates to great design wont be apparent until the first Woods course is completed in Dubai. As architect Pete Dye once told me, theres only so many ways to design a par-4, and its all pretty much been done before.
Whatever Woods does, though, is guaranteed to be better than the first hole he designed in seventh grade for a Golf Digest contest. It was a crazy horseshoe shaped par-5 dressed up with all the tricks he could come up with.
The person who won drew a straight par-4 with nothing on it, Woods said. What are you going to do?
Wish I could tell you, Tiger. Unfortunately, my five minutes are up.

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    Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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    J. Korda fires flawless 62, leads by 4 in Thailand

    By Associated PressFebruary 23, 2018, 12:48 pm

    CHONBURI, Thailand – Jessica Korda shot a course-record 62 at the Honda LPGA Thailand on Friday to lead by four strokes after the second round.

    Playing her first tournament since having jaw surgery, Korda made eight birdies and finished with an eagle to move to 16 under par at the halfway point, a 36-hole record for the event.

    ''That was a pretty good round, pretty special,'' she said. ''Just had a lot of fun doing it.''

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    Korda is the daughter of former tennis player Petr Korda. She leads from another American, Brittany Lincicome, who carded a 65 to go 12 under at the Siam Country Club Pattaya Old Course.

    Minjee Lee of Australia is third and a shot behind Linicome on 11 under after a 67. Lexi Thompson, the 2016 champion, is fourth and another shot behind Lee.

    Korda is making her season debut in Thailand after the surgery and is playing with 27 screws holding her jaw in place.

    She seized the outright lead with a birdie on No. 15, the third of four straight birdies she made on the back nine. Her eagle on the last meant she finished with a 29 on the back nine, putting her in prime position for a first tour win since 2015.

    ''The best part is I have had no headache for 11 weeks. So that's the biggest win for me,'' she said. ''Honestly I was just trying to get on the green, get myself a chance. I birdied four in a row and holed a long one (on 18). I wasn't expecting it at all. It was pretty cool.''

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    Simpson, Noren share Honda lead after challenging Rd. 1

    By Doug FergusonFebruary 23, 2018, 1:25 am

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Tiger Woods had what he called ''easily'' his best round hitting the ball, and he didn't even break par at the Honda Classic.

    Alex Noren and Webb Simpson shared the lead at 4-under 66 in steady wind on a penal PGA National golf course, and felt as though they had to work hard for it. Both dropped only one shot Thursday, which might have been as great an accomplishment as any of their birdies.

    ''When you stand on certain tee boxes or certain approach shots, you remember that, 'Man, this is one of the hardest courses we play all year, including majors,''' said Simpson, who is playing the Honda Classic for the first time in seven years.

    Only 20 players broke par, and just as many were at 76 or worse.

    Woods had only one big blunder - a double bogey on the par-5 third hole when he missed the green and missed a 3-foot putt - in an otherwise stress-free round. He had one other bogey against three birdies, and was rarely out of position. Even one of his two wild drives, when his ball landed behind two carts that were selling frozen lemonade and soft pretzels, he still had a good angle to the green.

    ''It was very positive today,'' Woods said. ''It was a tough day out there for all of us, and even par is a good score.''

    It was plenty tough for Adam Scott, who again stumbled his way through the closing stretch of holes that feature water, water and more water. Scott went into the water on the par-3 15th and made double bogey, and then hit into the water on the par-3 17th and made triple bogey. He shot 73.

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    Rory McIlroy was at even par deep into the back nine when he figured his last chance at birdie would be the par-5 18th. Once he got there, he figured his best chance at birdie was to hit 3-wood on or near the green. Instead, he came up a yard short and into the water, made double bogey and shot 72.

    Noren, who lost in a playoff at Torrey Pines last month, shot 31 on the front nine and finished with a 6-foot birdie on the ninth hole into a strong wind for his 66.

    The Swede is a nine-time winner on the European Tour who is No. 16 in the world, though he has yet to make a connection among American golf fans - outside of Stillwater, Oklahoma, from his college days at Oklahoma State - from not having fared well at big events. Noren spends time in South Florida during the winter, so he's getting used to this variety of putting surfaces.

    ''I came over here to try to play some more American-style courses, get firmer greens, more rough, and to improve my driving and improve my long game,'' Noren said. ''So it's been great.''

    PGA champion Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Morgan Hoffmann - who all live up the road in Jupiter - opened with a 67. There's not much of an advantage because hardly anyone plays PGA National the other 51 weeks of the year. It's a resort that gets plenty of traffic, and conditions aren't quite the same.

    Louis Oosthuizen, the South African who now lives primarily in West Palm Beach, also came out to PGA National a few weeks ago to get a feel for the course. He was just like everyone else that day - carts on paths only. Not everyone can hole a bunker shot on the final hole at No. 9 for a 67. Mackenzie Hughes of Canada shot his 67 with a bogey from a bunker on No. 9.

    Woods, in his third PGA Tour event since returning from a fourth back surgery, appears to be making progress.

    ''One bad hole,'' he said. ''That's the way it goes.''

    It came on the easiest hole on the course. Woods drove into a fairway bunker on the par-5 third, laid up and put his third shot in a bunker. He barely got it out to the collar, used the edge of his sand wedge to putt it down toward the hole and missed the 3-foot par putt.

    He answered with a birdie and made pars the rest of the way.

    ''I'm trying to get better, more efficient at what I'm doing,'' Woods said. ''And also I'm actually doing it under the gun, under the pressure of having to hit golf shots, and this golf course is not forgiving whatsoever. I was very happy with the way I hit it today.''

    Woods played with Patton Kizzire, who already has won twice on the PGA Tour season this year. Kizzire had never met Woods until Thursday, and he yanked his opening tee shot into a palmetto bush. No one could find it, so he had to return to the tee to play his third shot. Kizzire covered the 505 yards in three shots, an outstanding bogey considering the two-shot penalty.

    Later, he laughed about the moment.

    ''I was so nervous,'' Kizzire said. ''I said to Tiger, 'Why did you have to make me so nervous?'''

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    Players battle 'crusty' greens on Day 1 at Honda

    By Randall MellFebruary 22, 2018, 11:52 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods called the greens “scratchy” on PGA National’s Champion Course.

    Rory McIlroy said there is “not a lot of grass on them.”

    Morgan Hoffmann said they are “pretty dicey in spots, like a lot of dirt.”

    The first round of the Honda Classic left players talking almost as much about the challenge of navigating the greens as they did the challenge of Florida’s blustery, winter winds.

    “They looked more like Sunday greens than Thursday,” McIlroy said. “They are pretty crusty. They are going to have a job keeping a couple of them alive.”

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    Brad Nelson, PGA National’s director of agronomy, said the Champion Course’s TifEagle Bermuda greens are 18 years old, and they are dealing with some contamination, in spots, of other strains of grasses.

    “As it’s been so warm and dry, and as we are trying to get the greens so firm, those areas that are not a true Tifeagle variety anymore, they get unhappy,” Nelson said. “What I mean by unhappy is that they open up a little bit . . . It gives them the appearance of being a little bit thin in some areas.”

    Nelson said the greens are scheduled for re-grassing in the summer of 2019. He said the greens do have a “crusty” quality, but . . .

    “Our goal is to be really, really firm, and we feel like we are in a good place for where we want them to be going into the weekend,” he said.